Composers Ryan Miller and Jay Lifton recently teamed up to score Something from Tiffany's, the Amazon Studios feature from producers Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter.
Something from Tiffany's stars Zoey Deutch, Kendrick Sampson, Ray Nicholson and Shay Mitchell. The feature premiered during the holiday season on Prime Video and follows two couples whose paths cross due to a mix-up of gifts, leading to a series of twists and unexpected discoveries. The project was directed by Daryl Wein.
Ryan Miller is a founding member and lead singer of the band Guster, which has been touring and recording for more than 30 years. He has scored more than a dozen feature feature films, working with directors that include Colin Trevorrow, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Lake Bell and Zoe Lister-Jones.
Jay Lifton is a New York-based composer, who is particularly interested in projects set in and around the metro area. He has worked with Sean Baker (Greg the Bunny, The Florida Project), Marc Meyers (How He Fell in Love, My Friend Dahmer) and Kirsten Smith (10 Things I Hate About You), and his music can also be heard in IBM's "Watson and Me" series of commercials featuring Ridley Scott, Serena Williams, Bob Dylan and the late Carrie Fisher.
The composing team recently shared their experience working on the feature with Post.
Photo (L-R): Composers Ryan Miller and Jay Lifton
Can you tell us about how you approached this project and where you drew inspiration from?
Ryan Miller: “Daryl and the producers were not interested in a quirky, indie score — a lane I frequently and unapologetically find myself in — but rather something that felt rich, lush and majorly cinematic. I’ve dabbled in these sorts of textures and colors before, but this was the first time I really embraced them in no small thanks to Jay’s expertise. It’s sort of hard to go back after this!”
Jay Lifton: “This was initially Ryan’s gig and I was really happy to get recruited for it. Daryl was referencing various Italian films from the 1960s, and that classic film score style is a world I love to inhabit.”
What was the collaboration process like?
Miller: “This was the second time Jay and I worked as a team, the second time I worked with Daryl on a feature, but the first time for all three of us to be in thrall. We were in three separate locations (LA, NYC, Vermont) so there were a lot of Zooms, shared spreadsheets, text chains and Dropbox links. Thankfully, it all culminated in a recording session - the first time the composers and director were all in a room together. Turns out, remote collaboration can actually work! Three cheers for technology!”
Lifton: “Being a composer, particularly since the pandemic, can be very isolating. As much as we all get ‘Zoom fatigue,’ it was a huge antidepressant to get on video calls with Ryan and Daryl, discuss the plan for the day, write, and then reconvene a day later for show & tell. We often would send ideas back and forth, and sometimes the cue would start in one place but finish in another. As we wrapped, having some in-person time was really satisfying.”
What equipment or tools were you relying on to composing this score?
Lifton: “Luckily we have both used the same DAW (Logic Pro X) for years. Swapping sessions ended up being easy, even though some of our sample libraries differ. On the mockups, we mostly used a blend of two string libraries — Spitfire Studio Strings Pro and LA Session Strings. The LASS Sordino strings are amazing for that ‘classic cinema’ sound and has really nice portamentos. The pianos are mostly our own custom samples, layered with a live grand. I’ve used BURL converters for years and love them.”
What were some of the rewarding parts of composing for Something from Tiffany's?
Miller: “It’s nice to work on a film that finds its audience. So many of the things so many of us work on just go ‘poof,’ so it’s been a thrill to have something cut through the noise, even if it’s just for a few weeks.
“As far as reaction to the film, I got a screenshot (a while back) from Daryl with Tiffany’s at the top of the ‘most streamed movies’ list. Number 1 film on one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world! Not too bad! It’s a very sweet and charming film that achieves exactly what it promises to do. It’s really all you can hope for and justifies the love it’s received since its release.”
Lifton: “The week it came out I reconnected with lots of old friends who had randomly watched the film and saw our names in the credits and thought to call. It has been a nice side bonus to the holiday season. The most rewarding part of composing was absolutely getting to work with a team who really appreciated the music and were very respectful of the process.”